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U of T student wins award for transportation research study


PARIS, France — One of the two Canadians shortlisted for Young Researcher of the Year Award has won the prestigious prize. Hossam Abdelgawad, a 27-year-old PhD-candidate from the University of Toronto but of Egyptian heritage, will be honoured today at the International Transport Forum, a global mobility summit in Leipzig, Germany.

Abdelgawad won the award for his study which offers a novel approach to the mass evacuation of major cities in case of a catastrophe. The study addresses the growing concern that wide-scale evacuation of a city may become necessary in the event of a natural disaster, or of a terrorist attack, such as Hurricane Katrina or the recent bomb scare in Time’s Square earlier this month.

“The numerous man-made catastrophes that menace major communities accentuate the need for proper planning for emergency evacuation,” explains Abdelgawad. “My research focuses on coordinating, controlling and optimizing the utilization of the existing transportation network capacity.”

Abdelgawad’s proposal includes a framework that integrates car-based and mass transit-based evacuation. His integrated approach has been successfully used during a simulated evacuation of the City of Toronto with rapid transit, buses and automobiles. 

In all, 31 papers from participants of 32 different nationalities (including co-authors) were received. “The Young Researcher Award is obviously filling a gap in the transport research scene,” said Jack Short, secretary general of the ITF. “We are particularly impressed with the wide range of approaches to pressing problems transport faces.”